Hayden's StorySummer, 2007:
My son, Hayden, had mild symptoms of a tic disorder starting at a very young age. He would stutter for short periods of time or make little sounds or movements. His tics were the "transient" variety, and not of major concern.
By age eleven he developed a noticeable tic that involved the shaking of his head in rapid patterns of two to three shakes accompanied by a variety of small, vocal tics. The head shaking was persistent, severe and increased in frequency over a period of weeks. I noticed the head shaking was at its worst when he ate artificially flavored, brightly dyed foods.
When a pediatric neurologist diagnosed my son with Tourette Syndrome, I immediately thought of the Feingold Association because of something I had researched years before. I quickly concluded that removing the synthetic chemicals from food and toiletry items might help my son, and posed far less risk than medications.
My son began eating only Feingold-acceptable brands of foods and using only Feingold-acceptable toiletry items with astounding results. In a mere 72 hours we saw his head shaking subside. Over a period of only thirty days, all tics virtually disappeared.
Hayden has been on the Feingold diet for several months now. If he consumes unacceptable foods on any given day, by nightfall we see little tics developing, primarily vocal. He is aware of his symptoms and their relationship to his eating habits. Once a tic starts he enthusiastically returns to good eating habits and always with fast results. Tics are typically reduced to a non-noticeable level or eliminated by the following day.
I checked with my son about using his story, and in keeping with his general outlook, he said "Sure! Use my name and my picture if it will help other people!" He is just a sweetheart.
Hayden turned 14 in October and is doing great!
Occasionally, I get to know families with a child diagnosed with Tourette's who turned immediately to drugs, which were instantly offered to Hayden upon diagnosis. Honestly, I hear horror stories and for most of the children the drugs severely worsened tics, impacted moods and caused changes in appetite (some increases, some decreases).
We continue to be thankful for starting Feingold within a week of Hayden's diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome. Looking back to summer of 2007, had we gone any other route, he might well be in horrible shape right now, rather than virtually tic-free.
I cannot recommend strongly or passionately enough that parents explore environmental/diet chemical reduction prior to exploring drugs for their children. Though having tics disappear within 72 hours of being on the Feingold diet, as was the outcome with Hayden, might present an unrealistic hope for some, I cannot help believing it is a realistic hope for many. The bright dyes in candies, frostings, frozen treats, breakfast foods, fruit snacks, soft drinks and hundreds of other dietary items are triggers for my son's tics. Avoiding all those blue, green, orange, red, yellow, and purple dye-laced foods is now a daily habit for our entire family. We all feel better!
Editor's Note: From member reports, it seems that some children respond quickly with improvement in tics within a week or so. Other children respond slowly, over a period of six months or more. These parents generally kept using the diet because other symptoms had improved. There has been no research directly considering the use of the Feingold (or any other) diet for Tourette's Syndrome, but there has been research showing that the artificial colorings trigger an increase in random neuron firing in the brain.